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Volume 9 Number 1, Spring 2012, Pages 1-197   

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The Interpretation of Discourse-Linked Wh-Phrases by EFL Learners

    Soo-Ok Kweon

This study investigates the processing of personal pronouns (he/she) in English when the possible antecedent is either a discourse-linked which N phrase or a non-discourse-linked who phrase, using a self-paced sentence processing technique. Data collected from 41 Korean learners of English were analyzed in terms of the reading time for a pronoun following a wh-phrase. Learners preferred a d-linked wh-phrase (which N) rather than a non-d-linked wh-phrase (who) as the antecedent of a pronoun. This was similar to the results from native speakers of English in Frazier and Clifton's (2002) study, but learners differed from native speakers based on different types of constructions used in the test. A unique result of the embedding effect in which embedded sentences were easier than matrix sentences were observed and implications of second language acquisition theory are discussed based on this result.

Keywords: discourse-linked wh-phrases, pronoun interpretation, wh-movement